Japanese Photo Booths Retouch Your Portraits—Whether You Want Them to or Not

In Japan, Purikura photo booths are everywhere. Purikura translates to photo club and the booth resembles the photo booths you see in the mall in the US, except these ones can add decorative borders and designs to your photos. Many people use them to take snapshots with their friends and the photos are printed on sticker paper. In this video, vlogger Micaela noticed that her photos from Purikura photo booths looked a little too perfect and decided to conduct her own experiment:

Test Shots

In the first set of photos, Micaela puts on a normal amount of makeup and takes a before shot to compare to her Purikura photos. When she compares the two, you can see that the machine has enlarged her eyes and softened her features. (Via PetaPixel)


Heavy Makeup

Micaela then takes it a step further. She poorly applies heavy makeup and takes a new set of photos. Her results are more obvious. The photo booth has softened all the edges of her makeup, corrected her lipstick, and enlarged her eyes.

makeup lipstick

edited photo

Adding “Blemishes”

To really test the limits of this editing technology, Micaela adds copious amounts of makeup to her face in unusual places. She uses lipstick to add red dots and eyeliner to draw marks all over her face. Can the Purikura handle this level of imperfection?


blemish removal

Yes and no. The Purikura has eliminated the majority of the red spots and has definitely softened her features and enlarged her eyes. Some red marks remain, but considering how extreme the makeup was, it did a pretty good job of making corrections.

Micaela’s conclusion is that yes, obviously the Purikura is heavily editing the photos before it prints them in only a matter of minutes, but she isn’t mad.

“It’s cool that that technology exists… Purikura is a special part of Japanese culture…”

The editing software not only makes corrections to imperfections like blemishes and bad makeup, but is also altering the shape of her face and eyes to conform to specific cultural beauty standards. She urges people to try it out next time they’re in Japan and experience a part of the culture. This kind of instant editing technology is growing in popularity and can be found built in to smartphone cameras and can even add makeup to the subject before you hit share. Is this something that will make its way into western culture?

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